Behind the Scenes...January!

I am so excited to report that January is finally filled with excitement in 2nd grade.  It is my birthday month but I lacked in a great theme to focus on.  We have always celebrated Black history & Famous Americans but I needed more to jazz the COLD month up.  Well, finally Chinese New Year has done just that.  I loved teaching about the history of the major leaders in our country's past.  By adding in Chinese New Year and more customs blended the two together beautifully. 
Behind the Scenes in January...
Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration
We do an activity with Tootsie Pops.  I have the students choose a Tootsie Pop out of a brown bag.  I want their colors to be random and they need to be the one to pick it.  They each have a sheet of directions to follow which includes making groups based on their color.  They group together based on color and begin to enjoy their treat.  Stopping when they get to the center and then putting their sticks and the center back in their paper wrapper.
I then show them a page on our smartboard that shows what each color gets to do during our literacy time.  
     The orange group is always a bit upset...I get all no nonsense and send them off to work.  After about 15 minutes we regroup and talk about our activities.  The orange group is always overly upset about how unfair it was.  We then go back and examine the centers of our Tootsie Pops.  They are all the SAME no matter what color it started as.  We then read a Martin, Luther King, Jr. book and I wait for the connections to begin.  We discuss that it was not fair to be treated differently based on the color of our skin.  Just like it was not fair to be made to write spelling words based on the color of our Tootsie POP!  Like the Tootsie Pops, we don't pick our colors but deep down we are all the same.  Like the Tootsie roll in the center of our POP. 
     I just love seeing the connections during this activity.  It really hits home with the younger grades.  Enjoy!
Chinese New Year!
     I also put together 2 fun Chinese New Year Centers to help connect our celebration at the end of the week.  We spend the rest of the week learning about China and the Chinese New Year.  You can find more in my Chinese New Year Unit. 

Chinese New Year is celebrated on January 23rd so we are going to be having a parade with Lucky Dragons on Friday.  Check out the photos below!
In this center, centers students will use the pictured charts hung on the wall to learn how to use chopsticks.  They will then choose items from the tub and estimate how many tries it will take them to pick up the object with their chopsticks.  (Sorry the pictures on the wall are not showing.)  They then record the number of times.  I am using notebook paper for a recording sheet because it saves on copies.  It is also good for them to get used to recording data for 3rd grade.  I am also planning on having them take their chopsticks to lunch to practice:)

In May I Take Your Order, student use menus from local Chinese Restaurants to take the order of 3 students in the classroom.  

    I also headed over to Activity Village and found some great resources for Chinese New Year.  You can see in the video above my Secret Code center where children will use Chinese symbols to write sentences. 
Be sure the check out how I use Talk Point recorders in my classroom.  

I loved that the recorders went right along with the colors of my centers!  Better yet,   I have found a way to combine traditional exploration centers and The Daily Five using these recorders.  More to come on that:)  I am off to make homemade donuts with my sweet kiddos and my neighbors!


  1. I love these activities...your kids are having so much fun, all while learning! (I am thinking I need some of those recorders!!)
    First Grade Blue SKies

  2. I LOVE the idea of the tootsie pops! I want to do this on Tuesday when we get back!

    3rd Grade Randomness

  3. Great blog! :) I'm your newest follower.

    Wild About Second Grade

  4. I LOVE the Tootsie Pop idea! We might need to do those this week!

    I would LOVE for you to come visit me when you get the chance! I have TONS and TONS of *freebies*! =)

    Heather's Heart

  5. Hey Monica- Happy Birthday!
    - Leslie


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